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New Testament | 2 Peter | Summary



"Simon Peter" writes to a community to remind them of his teaching and offer his help in strengthening their faith.

  • It is from God's "divine power" that humans have been given what they need to escape corruption in the world.
  • Believers are encouraged to acquire a chain of positive attributes, beginning with faith and moving through goodness, knowledge, self-control, endurance, godliness, and mutual affection to love, with the ultimate goal of entering into Jesus's eternal kingdom.
  • The author will spend his life reminding the Christ-believers of the truth and preserving a record of true teachings.
  • He assures them God will judge those who are not righteous, just as he previously punished angels with "chains of deepest darkness," those who were unrighteous in the time of Noah, and the people of Sodom and Gomorrah (2 Peter 2:4).
  • False prophets are not afraid of the punishment that they will undergo.
  • God's timing may seem slow or delayed from a human perspective, but God's sense of time is different and the "day of the Lord" will arrive unexpectedly (2 Peter 3:10).
  • If the Christ-believers endure in holiness, then they will experience "new heavens and a new earth" (2 Peter 3:13).


If the letter is a pseudepigraphic composition, its author and readers were facing a situation when Jesus's earliest followers had begun to die, so the Christ-believers could no longer rely on firsthand, in-person apostolic teaching for guidance and leadership. Instead, the next generation of followers needed to apply the early lessons and sayings to a new historical setting.

The letter may be an example of how Christians revived and reinterpreted apostolic teaching for the post-apostolic period. This historical setting might help to explain the author's comments that he wants to be sure the community knows and accurately understands his teaching before he can no longer convey it to them in person. The end of the letter also suggests time has passed since the age of the apostles and some Christ-believers may be interpreting apostolic tradition in ways that upset the author.

Many New Testament scholars think the letter might be fruitfully compared to another genre of religious texts, Jewish testamentary literature. A "testament" was a form of text that imagined an important figure, sometimes one of the Hebrew Bible patriarchs, on his deathbed. Before passing away the patriarch would offer blessings, warnings, and advice to his descendants.

Testamentary features in 2 Peter include the focus on preserving his teaching unchanged after his death. The author also offers a warning that false teachers "who will secretly bring in destructive opinions" will threaten the community in the future (2 Peter 2:1). Other future threats include the "scoffers" who "will come, scoffing and indulging their own lusts" and denying the promised the second coming of the resurrected Christ (2 Peter 3:3). By focusing on guidance for the community of believers, the author of this letter creates a portrait of an elderly Peter, looking ahead to a time when he can no longer support the community; while he still can, this imagined Peter takes an active role in shaping his legacy within the churches of Asia Minor.

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